June 1, 2015 — Blue Bell Creameries and the Alabama Department of Public Health have agreed to a plan to ensure their ice cream is Listeria-free before it is allowed to return to store shelves.
The Dallas Morning News reports that the Texas-based ice cream company will implement a “test and hold” procedure at its Alabama facility in Sylacauga.
The company must also:
- Find potential or actual sources of contamination
- Hire an independent microbiology expert to prevent future Listeria outbreaks
- Notify the Alabama Department of Public Health about any positive Listeria tests in ingredients or finished products
- Have a plan for how to respond to positive tests
Blue Bell has agreed to nearly identical plans in Texas and Oklahoma, where other facilities are located.
Blue Bell trucks are not delivering ice cream yet and the company has not set a timeline for returning their products to stores. The facility in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, had at least 17 positive Listeria tests since 2013. In Texas, 37% of the company’s total work force were fired, according to a statement from CEO Paul Kruse.
Since 2010, at least 10 people were infected with Listeria after eating Blue Bell ice cream, including three hospitalized patients in Kansas who died. Because the outbreak has been going on for so long, it is possible that many cases were never linked to the ice cream.
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